The Childcare Bill 2016 is a Government commitment to offer working families up to 30 hours free childcare per week for 3 and 4 year olds.
At the moment all 3 and 4 year olds are able to get 15 hours a week Free Early Learning. From September 2017, the new policy could add up to 15 hours more free childcare.
Over the next year we will be talking to families, providers and other local authorities across the country to discuss how the offer can best meet the needs of working families and how we can work with providers to develop a best practice approach.
The window for submitting applications has now closed. We will be shortlisting a maximum of 6 bids for submission to DfE. Successful bids will be selected subject to DfE guidance and our childcare sufficiency principles.
We are currently seeking reassurance from the DfE regarding the level of financial risk attached to the capital fund process.
We are fully committed to the successful delivery of this programme but reserve the right to withdraw from the process in the event that reassurances are not forthcoming or where the level of financial risk is judged to outweigh the benefits.
A nationwide consultation to consider the views of providers and parents on the 30 hours entitlement closed on 6 June.
We will share the findings of the consultation on this page when they are published.
Many details of the offer to increase free childcare will not be available until after the findings of the consultation have been published. We will publish more as information is released.
The following details are based on our current understanding:
The new entitlement can be flexible. “30 hours” is based on the provider only being open for the 38 weeks of term time.
Providers have the option to spread the same total of hours out over more weeks.
For example, if the provider was open 48 weeks of the year, then the offer would be for 23.75 hours per week.
A household with 2 working parents or a single parent household where the parent works, will be entitled to the additional hours if they earn at least 16 hours pay at National Living Wage per week. This is currently £115.20 a week, but will have increased when the offer is available.
Because entitlement is earnings based, unpaid/voluntary work will not count towards your eligibility.
The upper limit on entitlement has been set at £100,000 per year.
The new offer won’t be available until September 2017.
As with Free Early Learning, children will be able to use the free places from the start of the term following their 3rd birthday.
We understand that the childcare provided should be the same quality as Free Early Learning.